The Malik Report
The Detroit Red Wings played their best game since their run-and-gun loss to Toronto a week-and-a-half ago, attempting to out-grind a viciously gritty Avalanche team that both received wonderful goaltending from Calvin Pickard and hooked, held, hacked, whacked and smacked the Wings' Swedes out of scoring chances (Darren Helm, too), but the refs decided that this was going to be a quick game...
And it wasn't, it was painful to watch for two periods, painfully slow despite the Wings' attempts at deliberate play, and after the Wings finally released the goal-scoring hounds via Pavel Datsyuk's goal--among 7 shots and 10 total attempts, as well as as 16-and-9 faceoff record, 2 takeaways and 22:27 played--Petr Mrazek, who was equally valiant in stopping 22 of 23 harder-than-they-looked shots, stopped 6 of 9 shootout shooters...
But the Colorado Avalanche mucked, ground, hooked, held and rope-a-doped off Pickard to a 2-1 shootout win that feels tremendously un-earned from a Wings perspective.
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Babcock said two lineup changes: Kindl in on defense and Cleary in for Andersson.
This will be Cleary's 10th game, triggering a $1 million bonus. Can be applied to next season's cap if needed.
Holland said tests on Jimmy Howard (groin) revealed no significant damage. Still day to day. Hasn't been ruled out for Tuesday's game.
The Red Wings insisted that they did "the right things" for the most part during Friday's 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders, and after Mike Babcock changed the team's lines up during Saturday's practice, the team made similar remarks about its increasing offensive chances and decreasing defensive gaffes.
They weren't wrong. The Wings did display more solid offensive flourishes (albeit mostly un-screened, single-shot attempts from the outside), and more importantly, Petr Mrazek didn't face the same kind of siege he did during last weekend's game against Toronto. The Wings didn't let the Isles run the table like the Blue Jackets did by turning every damn puck over, either, though the team's problems in the faceoff circle is a big concern.
Going into today's game against the Colorado Avalanche (6 PM EST on FSD/Altitude/97.1 FM) and Tuesday's game against Buffalo, the Wings face a puzzling opponent, and a dangerous one: Colorado's 5-1 win over Buffalo on Saturday may have snapped a 2-game losing streak amidst a month in which the Avs have lost 6 of 8 games, but interim starter Calvin Pickard is quite the spoiler (ask Grand Rapids Griffins fans), and there's no doubt that Patrick Roy will make sure to get the most out of his team when facing his old nemesis.
As ColoradoAvalanche.com's Rob Knabenbauer reported, the Avs also received a pair of roster reinforcements on Saturday...
The Grand Rapids Griffins have lost 1st line center Andreas Athanasiou's services for the next 7 weeks, Mattias Backman's gone back to Sweden, both Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum are in Detroit and Xavier Ouellet's days with the Griffins are numbered, but a team that struggled so very mightily for the first month-and-a-half of the season is still finding its stride.
Grand Rapids built upon Friday's 7-1 win over Toronto by taking a tightly-fought 4-3 shootout decision from the Lake Erie Monsters, and new 1st-line winger Landon Ferraro scored a goal (Tomas Nosek, the 1st line's center, had an assist), Teemu Pulkkinen posted yet another marker (as well as the shootout winner), Anthony Mantha got into his first professional fight and Jared Coreau stopped both 34 of 37 shots and 4 of 5 shootout shooters to extend his record to 6-and-0.
The Griffins' website posited a game recap...
This is not Red Wings-related, but I feel it's worth both an entry and the KK bandwidth to posit this set of observations:
As I continue reading stories about the KHL's mighty financial struggles as the Russian ruble loses 40% of its value, stories of players and coaches not getting paid in said rubles (more than usual: the KHL relies upon sponsorships to pay player salaries, and when sponsorships fall through, in true Soviet and post-Soviet fashion, employees are expected to continue to show up for work and eventually either get partially paid or sue for back wages, and this usually happens to 2-4 KHL teams per year), and I've read Dmitry Chesnokov's explanation of the situation (as well as commentary from Russian media outlets)...
Some media types and NHL fans are getting super excited about the prospect of, say, an Ilya Kovalchuk or Alexander Radulov bolting to the NHL.
Updated 4x at 4:42 PM: As Paul noted, the Red Wings' Saturday practice was rather uneventful.
The Wings made their recall of Tom McCollum official as Jimmy Howard's "lower-body injury" will keep him out for the weekend, MLive's Ansar Khan reported that Stephen Weiss will remain on the IR as he's not ready to return from his shoulder injury, and regarding Howard's future status...
The Wings welcome the Avs to town tomorrow (6 PM EST on FSD), and the Avalanche are playing Tuesday's opponent, the Buffalo Sabres, this evening.
The Free Press's Helene St. James either posted a light moment at practice or a metaphor for the Wings' 5-game losing streak, too:
via Ansar Khan tweets,
Nyquist-Helm-Franzen (Weiss rotating in)
Power play units:
Datsyuk-Zetterberg-Franzen. Abdelkader (net front), Kronwall
Nyquist-Tatar-Jurco, Helm (net front), Kindl
McCollum is here and will back-up Mrazek tomorrow vs. Colorado. Gustavsson (shoulder) was on ice earlier. Still few weeks away.
added 1:03pm, via Khan,
Babcock said Weiss not ready to play tomorrow.
Howard being evaluated today. Wings have no further update today. Mrazek starting tomorrow.
The overnight report: On bridges unburnt, net-front players, Ouellet, Weiss and praise for the Isles
If you need a little "light reading," if not a change of pace given the Wings' 5-game losing streak, and we're going to do via yet another two-or-more-sport-referencing article from the Free Press's Evil Drew Sharp, mostly because his comparison of Jim Harbaugh and Mike Babcock's respective contract situations is...Thoughtful? Yes indeedy:
Babcock's apparent reluctance in committing to the Wings beyond this season easily could have turned ugly. Everyone understands how thin-skinned Detroit gets if it thinks its shiniest sports baubles want out at their earliest convenience.
But general manager Ken Holland isn't panicked. There's no rush. More important, there's no rancor. Holland fully appreciates what Babcock has brought to the Wings since his arrival for the 2005-06 season. Holland knows he has the best coach in the NHL as well as the best owner in Mike Ilitch, who's unafraid to spend premium dollars on premium talent. He can wait. Holland knows that if Babcock leaves after the season, it won't be because the Wings turned miserly.
I'm just not surprised. The Red Wings' 2-1 loss to the New York Islanders, punctuated by Jimmy Howard's "lower-body injury" exit necessitating the recall of Tom McCollum and demotion of Xavier Ouellet due to roster space reasons...
It was coming, as was the Wings' 0-2-and-3 slide. This team is still just young enough, just thin enough in terms of depth or the lack thereof and just still working out its identity as a recharged, reloaded team on an upward trajectory to allow a set of injuries that disrupted team continuity to screw everything up--via a cascading series of self-inflicted wounds.
The 7-1-and-1 run sewed the seeds for both a probable rebound performance during January and February's road-heavy schedule, and the temporary losses of Johan Franzen's production, Danny DeKeyser, Stephen Weiss, Justin Abdelkader et. al. (and even Pavel Datsyuk's return) jostled the Wings just enough to put them on their back foot before tumbling a top-heavy team right over.
It was a good news-bad-news night for the Red Wings' prospects, and these tidbits = the bad news:
About The Malik Report
The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.